It’s easier than you think.
The Insecure Writers Support Group. I love that name so much.
Because as writers, we’re all insecure. Books are central to our lives and we value what they mean to us. Our favorite authors and stories have shaped our thoughts, comforted, challenged, and entertained us.
This is our calling. To create work that causes our readers to soar with delight and sob with empathy. And to read the last words with a sigh of satisfaction.
What if that’s what we mean to do... but we fail our readers? How dare we think we can join that esteemed company of not only published but well-loved authors?
I don’t think there’s ever been a truly creative person who didn’t face self-doubt. But those of you who succeed, meaning produce creative work and release it into the world, use that doubt to motivate yourself.
How do you become this version of a successful author?
You push yourselves to never stop learning and practicing.
Associate with people who are both dedicated to their craft and even more proficient than you are.
Develop your author brand and platform.
Develop a picture of your ideal reader and know what they want to read.
Find out where this reader hangs out and how to catch their attention.
Some tips on discovering your readers.
Approach the process with an open mind.
It’s easy to assume our readers are just like ourselves. That may be true—but we could also be the outlier.
If you’ve already published books and gotten reviews, what can you learn from your existing readers?
Don’t include your friends or family in your research. But do look at your reviews by other readers on Goodreads and Amazon. Look at your followers’ profiles on social media. What can you determine about age, gender, interests, and where they live?
The power of Google.
Never discount the obvious. If you write urban fantasy, for instance, just ask the search engine “Who is the typical reader of urban fantasy? Or who reads fantasy?”
In answer to my query, I found some fascinating resources:
Meet the Typical Fantasy Reader 12 page downloadable report
Who Reads Science Fiction and Fantasy, and How Do They Feel About Science? Preliminary Findings From an Online Survey.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers: More Fantasy, Less Romance
The last article asked readers what attracted them to the science fiction and fantasy genre. The most popular answers included escapism and creativity, but also offered these insights.
“Imaginative fiction offers a temporary escape from the mundane. It’s a safe and exciting escape from reality. Yet, oddly enough, upon my return to said reality, the very best fantasy and science fiction help me see the real world’s past, present, and even its future, from a different angle.”
“Exploration of worlds different from ours (with magic, etc) and extraordinary, fantastical experiences through characters who share a common humanity with ours.”
Start developing a character profile or Reader Persona.
Barbara Hale is 66 and lives in a suburb of St. Paul, MN. She retired after 35 years as a high school science teacher. She’s married and has four grandchildren. Barbara loves fantasy and the imaginative worlds she can visit and leave her worries about pandemics and climate change behind.
Barbara reads two or three books a week on her tablet and counts on Goodreads and Amazon reviews to suggest new authors. One of her biggest challenges is running out of engrossing books.
She’s active on Facebook and Instagram. It might surprise you that her grandkids got her hooked on TikTok where she follows #sciencefiction #fantasybooks #urbanfantasy.
As you discover more details about your typical or ideal reader, continue developing the character’s backstory just like you would for a character in your novel. It’s fun!
If I was talking to Reader Barbara, I’d be thinking about her need for referrals for new authors and her love of imaginary worlds when I think about how to reach out to her in blog posts or social media.
For more detailed information, you can read my article Know What Your Audience Wants With Quality Market Research.
I hope these ideas encourage you to think about who your reader is, what their needs are, and how you can more effectively communicate with them.
Cindy Heath is blogger and author. She is writing an inspired memoir about her childhood in Alaska and growing up off-grid in the wilderness. You can read her blog about homesteading, resilience, Alaska, growing and cooking food, and sustainability. Cindy combines a passion for the planet with over thirty years of business and writing. One of her specialties is creating custom reader personas, She'd love to talk to you about how she can help you maximize your marketing. Cindy's Linktree.